MOVING FROM ITALY TO OXFORD primary school and where to rent a house

(18 Posts)
paola76 Mon 29-Apr-13 11:15:01

HI, we are moving from Italy to Oxford in july and we need advice about schools and the area where to rent a house. Our children are 5, 4 and 1 month. At the moment, they don’t speak english at all. We started searching several websites, mainly the oxfordshire shool admissions site, and we received confirmation that the choice of which school depends on where one resides. So, basically we suppose it would be best to choose and contact a school, and if they were to accept the children we would then look for accomodation in the area. We would like the two children to attend the same school, so probabily we have to look for a primary with nursery . Ideally, a "child-friendly" area, with families, parks and other facilities for children would be the first choice. At the moment I’m on maternity leave but I’m a very active person so I need to stay at walking distance to a lively area. My housband is going to work at the Headington Hospital but communting does not represent a problem. I would appreciate advice about the following schools and their surroundings : Larkrise Primary, Cutteslow , West Oxford Primary, East Oxford Primary. All the schools with nursery around Headington are in Marston, is that a nice place? We have never been to Oxford and all the ideas we have about areas come from the internet!!!!! Our budget is around 1500-1800 pounds pcm for 3 bedrooms.
Thank you for your help
Paola

YokoUhOh Mon 29-Apr-13 11:25:41

Marston is a short walk across University Parks to town, and is easily within your budget, and is considered a nice area (there is also Old Marston, which has a villagey feel). I can't comment on the primaries, I'm afraid (DS is only 6mo and I haven't done my research yet) so hopefully this reply will bump the thread for you...Good luck!

exexpat Mon 29-Apr-13 11:34:01

I can't help specifically on Oxford, but the problem anyone moving in the UK faces is that schools cannot make a firm offer of a place for your children until you have an address in the area. And you won't want to sign the lease on a house until you know you have a school place nearby.

I'm afraid it's a catch-22 situation facing anyone moving house within the UK, but it's even worse if you are moving back from abroad - I know because I went through it myself. I ended up finding a house close to two possible schools and starting to pay rent two months before I actually moved back to the UK, so that the one school which had a place could give it to me.

The other problem is that most good schools are full all the time. With any luck, the population in Oxford will be relatively mobile, because of the university and the hospitals, so places should open up, but finding a reception class place for September is likely to be very difficult as they have just been allocated.I am assuming that your two older children wil be in reception and year 1, if they are still aged 5 and 4 on September 1st. If you can find a place for one child - most likely your older one - that should give your other one priority on the waiting list for spaces at the same school, as long as you are living reasonably close.

You have to consider the possibility that you will not get places at any schools you like, to start in September. The council will offer you places at any schools in the area which have places - likely to be the least popular ones with the worst reputations, for obvious reasons, and they may not be close to areas where you would want to live - and there is no guarantee that you will get places for both school-age children at the same school. Would private school or homeschooling be a possibility on a temporary basis if you find yourself stuck on waiting lists?

I would suggest trying to find a house as soon as possible, and talking to the education department of the council to find out which schools (if any) have places. You may need to call the schools directly. The other problem is that schools may not know at this stage if any children will be leaving in the summer - parents are meant to let the schools know, but many don't bother - they just don't show up at the beginning of the next term.

gruffalocake Mon 29-Apr-13 11:48:15

A lot of state schools in Oxford are not good. I don't know all the schools you mention but those I recognise aren't great. A starting point is to look at ofsted reports. I ruled out any which were grade 3 or 4 as that means they are at very best ok but more likely not good at all. Obviously there are always differences of opinion on what a good school is but for me I started with only looking at grade 2 'good' schools ( couldn't find any grade 1 'outstanding'primaries. Headington is the best spot for affordable rents within a good catchment. Windmill school and St. Andrews are good. I also liked at michaels in marston. I think maraston has a couple of other good schools I haven't seen.
Summertown is lovely and has st Phillips and at James but is hugely competitive to get in and might be over budget for a decent 3 bed.
Headington has a state nursery which feeds windmill and St. Andrews and is very close to both schools. it's called the quarry school. St. michaels has a pre school on site.
Headington has a fab park called bury knowle and lots of families like yours so playgroups etc. also lots of doctors as right by the hospitals.

gruffalocake Mon 29-Apr-13 11:49:35

Sorry about dire typos :/

paola76 Mon 29-Apr-13 11:55:53

Thank you very much for your advice about schools..I'm not a fun of homeschooling, maybe a private school...

paola76 Mon 29-Apr-13 12:12:32

Gruffalocake what about Cowley? I heard about a nice park and a good children center...for me and my youngest (1 month now)

paola76 Mon 29-Apr-13 12:13:35

Admission at nursery is that hard as for primary?

Yes, or at least it is in busy areas, like I expect Oxford to be. Plus they are much more expensive than Italian nidi.

exexpat Mon 29-Apr-13 13:07:44

I think you may also be confused about the need for nursery provision - if your younger child is already aged four, he/she will be in reception class from September, which all schools have, not in nursery, which only some schools have, and is for age 3-4.

If you will be needing childcare for the youngest baby, you will need to look for private nurseries or childminders, which take babies & toddlers, rather than nurseries attached to schools.

paola76 Mon 29-Apr-13 13:27:00

happy to need ONLY a primary! in fact my 2nd turns 4 in august

exexpat Mon 29-Apr-13 13:29:30

Just to clarify age ranges:
The reception class of September 2013 is for children who are aged 4 by August 31st, and who will turn 5 between September 1st 2013 and August 31st 2014. Reception class is part of primary/infant school, not nursery.
Year 1 is for children who are aged 5 by August 31st, and will turn 6 between Sept 1st 2013 and Aug 31st 2014.
Year 2 is for children aged 6 by August 31st and so on.

I am presuming that if you are moving over in July, you are not planning to send the children to school until September, as the school year finishes in mid-late July, so they would only get a couple of weeks of school.

If you happen to find a school with a place for your older one as soon as you arrive, I suppose it might be worth sending him/her in for a few days to start getting to know the other children, but if they don't yet speak any English, it might be better to spend the summer working on that then start school with some basic English in September.

exexpat Mon 29-Apr-13 13:30:37

Cross-posted with you there - so yes, your younger will need a reception class place.

juneau Mon 29-Apr-13 13:32:09

If you 2nd child turns 4 in August s/he should start school in Sept, under the usual British rules. I think legally you could defer until next year, but most DC in this country begin school the Sept after they turn 4 (which is young for summer-born DC, particularly August birthdays), but it's how most parents do it.

gruffalocake Mon 29-Apr-13 13:34:44

Cowley is nice, more urban than headington or marston with ethnic food shops. It is closer to town. Florence park area is popular and up and coming with families but it doesn't have any good state schools. It is good value for buying but I'm not sure there would be any advantage to renting there. Maybe in the roads nearest the city centre if you could afford private school?
Do check if you can meet you're requirements in Summertown as that is to poshest spot in Oxford with nice amenities but is patchy on schools I think.
Nursery is not as hard to sort as primary but pp are right that if your dc are 4 and 5 they will both be going to school in September.
There are lots of private options in Oxford if you choose that. Around £9k per annum for pre prep I would guess. Again the most popular might not have space but there is huge turnover in the summer with academics and doctors leaving and new families moving in so might work out for you.
So feel fee to PM me. Might also be worth reading the Oxford local threads on here.

My advise would be to try not to defer school anyway, since the dc both need to learn English, and it's much better to do so in Reception etc.

As a fellow Italian my advise is to go and see all the schools, regardless of their Ofsted report, they are incredibly different from our scuole elementari and my impression is that - at least for the first years - on average very good!

paola76 Mon 29-Apr-13 14:05:09

I don't want to defer school. My children now go to school (asilo) from 9 to 4, they need to socialize with other children and to learn english ( which i think will be a very fast process). The idea is to call school by school in order to find a place for sept. and to go to oxford to find a house as soon as possible. We will look for sportsgoup or other summer activities to make them familiar with english during summer. thank you very much for your advice!!!!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 29-Apr-13 17:21:42

For the summer it maybe worth looking at ultimate activity camps as they are running a multi activity camp at Headington School this summer.

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